I just read this very insightful analysis of the obsession with female virginity in YA literature. It isn’t just YA literature that is obsessed with this topic either. The entire genre of romance and erotica shares this fixation. So why does that happen? Why is there such an obsessive interest in the mythical hymen that most women do not even possess?
Given that women constitute the majority of readers interested in these books, we have to conclude that women, not men, are the ones obsessed with female virginity*. The reason for that, I believe, is how unhappy most women are with their sex lives. Many women trade sexual desire for an opportunity to be in a relationship with a great guy who suits them in every aspect except sexually.
The obsessive return to the topic of virginity is, for these women, an opportunity to go back to the beginning of their sex lives in search of the moment where it all went wrong. They have a vague feeling that somehow sexuality does not work for them the way it should. The repetitive return to the origins of that misery is an attempt to engage in a symbolic recreation of their own first sexual experience in the hopes that a “perfect” loss of virginity would result in a great sex life.
Of course, this project never works. Once the patriarchal conditioning that prevents a free and happy exercise of female sexuality is put in place, once the relational and / or sacrificial model of sexuality is adopted, only a massive amount of hard work will enable a woman to get rid of these impediments.
Replaying one’s first sexual encounter and attempting to create a fantasy in its place will not help. On her road to sexual liberation, a woman needs to go much earlier in time to find the moment when her physiology was taken hostage by the patriarchal conditioning.
* I’m talking exclusively about the developed Western societies in this post.